Art of Studying: Previewing and Reviewing

Almost every effective study technique contains an element of "previewing." To preview effectively, read the introductory paragraphs, the boldface type, and any summary, review, or study questions that may appear at the end. If the material contains none of these highlights, preview the material by reading the first one or two sentences of each paragraph. Much of the time, these "topic sentences" will tell you what the remainder of the paragraph is about. By skimming in this way, you will quickly gain an overview of the scope and sequence of the chapter.
To some extent, studying is like going on a trip. As you prepare, you may consult a map to find the best way to reach your destination. When you have planned the route, you begin to gather whatever is necessary to successfully complete the trip. For a trip by car, you'll need wheels, a licensed driver, gas, a way to pay for snacks etc. On a journey through an assignment for college, you will need paper and pen, perhaps a computer, the correct text, and a quiet, distraction-free place to plop yourself for an extended period of uninterrupted time. 

A good preview, like a good map. will help you begin to sort out the important material from the chaff. It will also substantially increase your ability to put the information you read into meaningful units and will improve your ability to remember it.

After reading the material, reflect on what you have read. Reflecting is not rereading but rather a mental activity in which you try to recall major ideas and themes. Ask yourself such questions as these: "What was the major idea?" "What minor ideas were included?" "What material was used to support or illustrate the major idea?" If you can accurately answer these questions, you have understood the substance of the material, and you may have anticipated the questions that your teacher may raise during the next class period or on a quiz or exam.

One productive study technique employs three major parts:
  • a preliminary survey, 
  • a careful but quick reading for key ideas,
  • and a review. 
  • Taken from Barron's Pocket Guide to Study Tips
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